The New York Rangers extended their winning streak to three games as they defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 Saturday night. New York jumped out a 3-0 lead, but Montreal pulled to within one on two different occasions before Ryan Callahan sealed the win with an empty netter. The goal came only 1:11 after Brian Gionta scored to cut the lead to 4-3.
Things got interesting early when Mike Blunden hopped off the Canadiens benched and flattened Brandon Dubinsky in the neutral zone. The hit itself was a textbook example of how to lay someone out in open ice, but Ryan Callahan took exception to the hit and immediately went after Blunden. The two fought and while they were fighting Michael Sauer Canadiens forward Petteri Nokelainen also squared off and were given game misconducts. The Rangers came out big winners in terms of the penalties as Callahan got away without receiving an instigator while clearly initiated the fight against Blunden while Blunden got an undeserved interference.
When the penalties were finished being doled out the Rangers ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage. The Rangers cashed in the two-man advantage when Derek Stepan fired a beautiful cross ice pass to Erik Christensen for a tap-in goal. Just after the second penalty expired the Rangers would make it 2-0 when Artem Ansiimov played an excellent drop pass to a pinching Dan Girardi who beat Carey Price over the shoulder with his one-timer.
The Rangers extended the lead to three with another tremendous passing play as Anisimov dropped the puck to Stepan who found Michael Del Zotto streaking down left wing and Del Zotto danced around a defender before slipping the shot five-hole on Price. It was the capper to a dominant opening period that had the Rangers looking like a runaway winner.
Never that easy with New York as they played a lousy second period that opened with Max Pacioretty’ scoring just 24 second in after a bad rebound by Henrik Lundqvist. The lead shrunk to just one when Andrei Kostitsyn scored while Montreal had a two-man advantage.
The Canadiens nearly tied it as Erik Cole beat Lundqvist with a shot, but it hit the far post. The Rangers took full advantage of the break as Andre Deveaux won a battle along the boards, Brandon Prust got the puck to Brad Richards and Richards extended the lead by using Yannick Weber as a screen with only 1:10 left in the second.
- Del Zotto stepped up in this game not only with the goal but logging 27:26 of ice time with Sauer getting ejected so early. Yes, 11:10 of that was on the power play, but big confidence boost for him getting that much ice time.
- Anisimov and Stepan were phenomenal tonight with vision and passing that created all three first period goals.
- Power play going 1-for-9 is certainly not helpful
- Fedotenko, Boyle, Prust might not have been on the score sheet but best game in terms of forechecking they have had this year.